Chapter 11 sneak preview of my current work-in-progress:
Luca – Book 1 of the Demon Born Series (paranormal romance).
Pre-edit version. May change before publication.
So another week has passed, and I’ve managed to squeeze in some precious writing time to get today’s chapter ready. I apologise for taking time with the story. Some of you have emailed me about it, and as much as I’d like to crack the whip and speed up, I’m inundated with some heavy non-writing commitments at the moment.
But all is not lost! I’ve some free weeks coming up soon, and I intend to fully use them to get a large chunk of Luca’s story written.
I just wanted to thank you all for bearing with me in the meantime. It’s always wonderful to read your emails and comments about the story too.
Hope you enjoy this week’s chapter 🙂
She swam further up into consciousness, and bitter cold registered, seeping into her fingers through what felt like stone. Belle frowned and tried to open her eyes, but her closed eyelids fluttered in protest against the invading light. With a groan, she dragged her fingers over the smooth stone beneath her, and then with effort, pushed herself up onto her elbows. She opened her eyes.
And fear had her heart dropping.
Thick iron bars reached from floor to ceiling in front of her, caging her in. And other than a wooden cot and an empty bucket in the corner, the rest of the grey cell was bare stone and iron. There wasn’t even a window, only a hand-sized metal grille on the wall behind her. And the air from it smelled dry and musty like it was being pumped through from the inside of a coffin.
Belle scrabbled to her feet. Beyond the cell, the room was more grey stone. The single lightbulb swinging from the ceiling sprayed yellow light that puddled in the middle of the floor but didn’t reach the dark corners. She glanced at the only door leading out of the room. It stood atop a flight of three stone steps, and its ancient wood was reinforced with thick iron bolts and wide hinges. It looked firmly closed, most likely locked.
Panic had her thrusting her hands into her jacket pockets, but her search came up empty. Her phone was gone, so was her money and everything else she’d had with her.
Oh God! Belle rushed to the cell’s iron door, and grabbing hold of the bars, pulled with all her might. The heavy padlock outside rattled but didn’t give. And defeated, she sagged against the cold iron. What now? Anything could happen. No one knew she was locked in here. And Aunt Dee… Worry churned her stomach. Was Aunt Dee locked up somewhere too?
She peered into the dark corners again, but there was no sign of any plants, not even a streak of algae on the stone walls. Nothing she could use. Stupid! Who was she kidding? As if her useless magic would have helped anyway. And she once more gripped the bars in defeat.
Defeat quickly turned to anger though. Some soulmate that bloody werewolf had turned out to be! But as soon as she thought of him, his handsome features and sexy smile invaded her mind, and her body throbbed for his strong hold once again. Ugh! She raged at herself. He’d stuck her in this damn prison, and she still had the hots for him. She was beyond pathetic! And as for him, he was nothing but a filthy kidnapper, a liar, and a… “BEAST!” she hollered at the closed wooden door. “Hey, you! I know you’re out there. Do you get off on locking up women? Well, you’re a total scumbag!” And since he hadn’t bothered to tell her his name, she might as well give him a few choice ones of her own. “Swine! Rat! Piece of no-good TOERAG!”
“Damn, you make a ton of noise for such a little thing.”
Belle yelped and backed away from the bars.
He stepped out of the shadows in the far corner, looking every bit as intimidating and intoxicating as she remembered.
“Christ! Do you have to creep up on people like that?” She asked once she’d caught her breath. For such a big guy, he really had no right to move so silently. She scowled at him. “And what the hell do you think you’re doing, knocking me out and locking me in here? Just wait till the police get their hands on you. You’ll be rotting in a cell like this for the rest of your life.”
He raised an eyebrow and glanced around. “See the police anywhere? I don’t. Guess I’m safe then.”
“People know I’m here,” she snapped, praying that Lilah had the good sense to go to the police sooner rather than later. “You won’t get away with this.”
“And they’ll find nothing but forest if they come looking.”
Belle’s hopes tumbled.
“But they won’t come,” he continued airily. “It’s just a little matter of influencing the memory of anyone thinking about you. How about we make them think you’ve gone on a long well-deserved holiday for your temper? The Caribbean sound good?” Belle stared at him aghast, and he shot her a smug smile. “No? Then Pyongyang it is.”
“You… you beast!” she spluttered.
“And rat, and swine. And don’t forget my favourite: toerag. The least I can do is live up to the names.”
“Well, what did you think I was going to do? Praise you for locking me up? And by the way, it’s the slimiest of acts to not only lock someone in a cell, but then to hide away in a corner and watch them near panic themselves to death.”
He regarded her. “Maybe I was waiting for you to use your magic and free yourself, Belle.”
Oh, big trouble. Belle bit her lip. He shouldn’t find out that her magic wasn’t in her control and so less than useless. She was already helpless enough in front of him. “You know my name,” she said instead. The thought that he might have tortured it out of Aunt Dee haunted her, but she kept herself calm. “Then I think it’s only fair I know yours.”
“Luca? Just Luca? Look, if you’re planning on keeping me prisoner and torturing me, then I think I should know your full name at least.”
His lips tipped in that sexy smile. “Luca Barone.”
Impressive. And his name wasn’t the only impressive thing about him. She struggled to keep her gaze from scorching a path down his ruggedly tempting body, which was all muscle beneath his fitted t-shirt and jeans. It was distracting. He could be a serial-killer werewolf for all she knew, but with all the ‘sexiness’ on display, she just couldn’t dredge up any fear. ‘Annoyed’ was a better word for what she was feeling right now, annoyed and something more tingly she didn’t want to dwell on. She glared at him. “Well, Luca Barone, I suppose you must be ‘alpha’ around here.”
“That I am.”
“Then as alpha, you should know about the peace treaty between the supernaturals and the Council of Ancients.”
He nodded, his blue eyes giving away nothing.
“It means…” Belle bit out, “that since I’m a witch and a human, you’re forbidden from harming me.”
“Forbidden…” he mused. “That’s a bit strong. I’d say it’s more an informal agreement.” He bared his teeth in a wolfish grin. “And if I decide to not honour that agreement, there’s precious little your Council of Ancients can do about it.”
Belle quavered. The Council was made up of the wisest of human witches and mages, but they tended to be the oldest too. She couldn’t quite picture any of them tottering over here and butting heads with Luca for her sake. And trying not to think about those strong white teeth of his, she appealed to whatever shred of decency he might have. “But you’re an alpha. So you will honour the treaty… won’t you?”
Her eyes widened in hope.
“But you trespassed,” he continued. “So the treaty no longer holds. You’re mine to do with as I please.”
Oh crap. She groaned inwardly in frustration. And worse of all was the havoc his words were wreaking in her. Exactly what did he want to do with her? Her body had a mind of its own and was already tingling its way into fantasies of his hands all over her, and his lips… Dammit! Focus! She berated herself. He’s dangerous. You need to get out of here. “My aunt,” she said quickly, reminding her overeager body just how serious this situation was. “What have you done with her?”
“Let’s just say she’s enjoying the same hospitality you’re enjoying.”
“Please… She didn’t mean to trespass. She came for my sake actually, so keep me prisoner and let her go.”
“But why?” Belle asked in exasperation. “I get that you want to keep me because of this soulmate thing. But why Aunt Dee? She can’t do anything for you.”
“She’s my guarantee you won’t leave.”
His words sparked a realisation in Belle. He had a weakness. He needed her… a lot. “I won’t leave,” she said softly. And changing her tactic, she came to the cell bars and gripped them. “We’re soulmates, remember. I know you feel it as much as I do.” She could more than feel it. Just stepping closer to him had doubled the crazy need swirling inside her. If the iron bars hadn’t been separating them, she wasn’t sure she’d have been able to keep from leaping on him.
A wary look entered his blue eyes, but there was something else there too—a burning need as intense as the one she was battling.
Satisfaction shot through Belle. For all his cockiness, he was still caught by their mate bond. Now if only she could use it to her advantage. And wrapping her traitorous feelings in icy control, she smiled invitingly at him. “You don’t have to keep me prisoner. What if I don’t want to leave you?” And she leaned against the bars at just the right angle to showcase the curve and dip of her cleavage.
The heat that flared in his eyes had her smiling inside with triumph but also trembling with trepidation. She was treading dangerously here. And warily, she watched for his next move.
To be continued next week…